each of the three service-specific equations results in three different values). In addition, validation of the equations has been called into question because the population used diverges significantly in ethnic profile from that of today's military. Personnel who fail the body fat screening within their service are referred to a weight management program, with consequences for their careers.

Fitness is assessed by the military coincident with, but independent of, body composition. Data suggest that a significant percentage of younger personnel cannot pass the fitness tests. These tests assess aerobic capacity and in some cases endurance, but they do not correlate well with performance on tasks requiring strength (characteristic of a high percentage of military operational specialties). Efforts to show a relationship between body composition and fitness among military women have reached the conclusion that women who are judged to be out of standard with respect to body fat perform better on tests of strength than women who are within the body fat standards. Thus, the current body composition assessment procedures may select against retention of those who may be most capable of performing the tasks necessary for military operations while selecting in favor of those who fit an appearance standard.

Recommendations
  •  The BCNH committee recommends the revision of the two-tiered body composition and fitness screen to that presented in Figure 7-1.

    The first tier should consist of semiannual assessment of body mass index (BMI, weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) and fitness (including strength and endurance). The acceptable range of BMIs, based on considerations of health and chronic disease risk, is recommended to be 19 to 25,1 independent of age. Individuals whose BMI falls within the desirable range and who pass the fitness test need no further screening. Individuals with BMIs greater than 25 should be subjected to a second tier of screening, based on body fat assessment. The committee believes that women with BMIs less than 19 can be fit to perform. However, as BMI decreases below 19, women may be at risk for malnutrition and should be considered for medical evaluation.

    Individuals whose body fat is assessed at 36 percent or less and who pass the fitness test will be considered within standard. Individuals whose body fat exceeds 30 percent and who fail the fitness test will be referred to weight management and fitness programs. Individuals whose body fat exceeds 36 percent will be referred to a weight management program, regardless of fitness score.

  •  The BCNH committee also recommends the development of a single, service-wide, circumferential equation for assessment of women's body fat, to be validated against a four-compartment model using a population of active-duty women or a population that is identical in

1  

Table S-3 in the Executive Summary shows the BMIs corresponding to current Army weight limits for women. Table S-4 shows the weight ranges that correspond to the recommended BMI range of 19 to 25.



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